Movie Review: Magic Mike
The Charlotte Observer
It’s no great stretch to imagine the chiseled, hot-footed hottie Channing Tatum as a stripper. It’s how he got his start in show business, after all.
And even though he never danced for his dollars, Matthew McConaughey has never been shy about shedding a shirt on the big screen.
But that’s the simple genius of Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” a fictionalized spin on Tatum’s pre-Hollywood years in Florida, taking it off for ladies. The casting does most of the work in this very entertaining dramedy set in a sexy/seedy world of male exotic dancers.
From the moment McConaughey, as the veteran owner of the Xquisite Dance Revue, struts onstage to tell the ladies “what you can … and canNOT touch,” we know we’re in good, um, hands. Soderbergh’s direction here is like stripping itself – the selling of a fantasy, a tease.
Tatum has the title role. By day, he’s a hustler – working as an off-the-books roofer, running a mobile car-detailing business, living beachfront and as likely to wake up with two women as one.
That’s because by night he is “Magic” Mike – the break-dancing star of the Xquisite Dance Revue. He’s living the good life. It’s a pity that all his businesses are cash-only. At 30, he’s got no credit, no prayer of getting a loan to run the business that is his first love – hand-crafted design.
Enter Adam, aka “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer), a hunky college drop-out who Mike takes under his wing. So what if his sister Brooke (Cody Horn) doesn’t approve? Not that she’s a prude. She just senses danger.
But the money rolls in and the lazy Adam realizes the real American Dream – he’s getting paid just for being pretty.
And then the dark side shows up – the drugs, the “real” women who frequent such clubs (plain Janes, over 40, not supermodel-skinny). There’s the fleeting nature of the career and the sleazy way employees are treated.
Tatum is spot-on, conflicted and perfect in the part. Mike is smart enough to know he can’t get by on his looks and his stripping forever. He’s ready to leave behind his “friend with benefits” (Olivia Munn) for the plainer and testier Brooke.
McConaughey, meanwhile, is the spark here, preening, amusing, but suggesting the dark side of the business and the only possible future for those who stay in it – alone, with lots of ready cash but no self-respect, a guy who has to take advantage of the next generation the way he was probably taken advantage of.
Soderbergh, Tatum and McConaughey strip this world, too, showing these guys work hard for the money, and that creating fantasy takes a lot of fantasizing, too.